Mom-and-pop stores in Yuba-Sutter not feeling Christmas cheer
Despite record-breaking national sales numbers at stores and on the Internet during the Thanksgiving weekend buying rush — or perhaps because of it — mom-and-pop stores in the Yuba-Sutter area continue to struggle during the Christmas shopping season. A sampling of locally owned stores reported mixed success at best, with mostly slow sales.
Asked how business is going during the holiday shopping season, Primo Recendez, owner of adjacent stores Soccer City and Discoteca Vallarta on Plumas Street in Yuba City, said, "Business is doing good on the soccer side, mostly apparel ... jerseys."
He said last week that he doesn't get a bump in business every Christmas, "but this year, for some reason, business has been better."
ShopperTrak, which collects customer traffic data at US stores, said Wednesday it is cutting its holiday sales forecast as sales have stagnated since the Thanksgiving weekend.
The Chicago-based ShopperTrak said it now expects nationwide holiday sales to be up 2.5 percent over last year, down from the projected 3.3 percent.
That falls right in line with the experience at Sullivan's Saddlery, which sells Western clothing and gear, on D Street in Marysville.
"Our sales are down a little," said Jim Sullivan, owner of Sullivan's Saddlery, referring to retail sales during the Christmas shopping season. "I don't really know whether it's the election or the fiscal crisis. People don't have any money."
John Stamm, owner of Hero's Hideout at Hillcrest Plaza in Yuba City, which sells comic books, collectible card games and collectible miniature games, echoed Sullivan.
"It's a little lower than previous years," said Stamm at midweek. "December hasn't been as big as other Decembers. It's been kind of average."
Stamm said game companies put out new products for December. That usually helps sales, he added, and there was at least one bright spot.
"A new booster set for a collectible card game called Vanguard came out on Dec. 14 — and I sold out in one day," said Stamm. He has since restocked.
For the week ending Dec. 15, in year-on-year comparisons, the number of shoppers in stores nationally fell 4.4 percent and sales dropped 4.3 percent, according to ShopperTrak.
Palmira Nava, owner of Penny Candy Store in Live Oak, which sells gifts as well as candy, said, "It has slowed down from previous years — it hasn't been like the last two or three years."
"You don't know whether people are going to the mall or Winco or Walmart to buy their candy, for one-stop shopping; or staying in one area for their shopping and don't want to come out here (to Live Oak)," she said.
As for the 2013 outlook, the shopkeepers were divided.
When asked if he felt positive about business in the coming year, Recendez, of Soccer City, said, "I think so. The economy's been picking up."
Game store owner Stamm said, "I feel pretty good about 2013. This year was up from last year; last year was up from the year before that, so there's been a steady climb."
But he offered a caveat: "Unfortunately, costs have gone up, so the profit margin has not increased."
Others gave a darker assessment.
"I think retail's gonna be right where we're at right now," said Sullivan. "I don't think we're going to see any increase in the retail business in 2013."
Penny Candy's Nava said, "I don't feel very confident since the last two years have been kind of slow. With the economy the way is, people don't have jobs and don't have money."